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Michael Russnow

Michael Russnow

Posted: September 2, 2008 03:23 AM

In the aftermath of John McCain's whirlwind announcement of Sarah Palin to be our next VEEP, I find it fascinating how the Republicans have come forth from their various covens transfixed with zeal, supporting the choice in a manner that can only be explained by the fact they've been transformed into Stepford Republicans.

On TV panel discussion after another, no matter what obvious shortcoming of Sarah Palin is presented, these so-called knowledgeable and pure Americans have a ready answer no matter how illogical.

It doesn't matter whether it's about Sarah Palin's competence and overall experience or the unusual fact of yesterday's announcement that her 17-year-old daughter Bristol is pregnant with child. Let me say first that I don't give a damn about her daughter's condition, which doesn't relate to her mother's ability -- even as a mother. We live in 2008, and kids will be kids. That her mother is supportive is lovely. That Bristol wants to keep the child is her own business.

However, the word "hypocrisy" does come to mind in that the same sort of constituency that has been cheering with the news that far-right Sarah Palin will cleanse John McCain of any vestigial moderate viewpoints and who regularly accuses Hollywood and supposed left-leaning media outlets of ruining our nation's communities has come to her defense as if what happened was perfectly normal in any red blooded American family.

If this had happened to one of Barack Obama's daughters (presumably much later on) or to Chelsea Clinton or Amy Carter, there would have been cries of "See what we've been saying. It's the permissive society the Democrats have been purveying."

But not so for leaders such as Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota), who looks as if she took an overdose of Botox, possessing a smile that never relaxes -- not even when James Carville excoriates her faux viewpoints. Ms. Bachmann cannot be dissuaded -- even in the abstract -- that anything unpleasant or even imperfect can be ascribed to the likes of Sarah Palin.

She cheers repetitiously that Palin's daughter will have the child. She accuses Carville and other men of gender bias when they correctly cite Palin's deficiencies. And as her closer she cites, with an incredulous display of Three-card Monty, that Sarah Palin has more executive experience than either Obama or his running mate Joe Biden. When other panelists wondered how she could compare Palin's experience to six-term U.S. Senator Joe Biden, she kept chanting the mantra, executive experience -- that's what she means. She conveniently doesn't include the GOP presumed standard bearer, John McCain, who, as a career legislator, would likewise be subordinate to Sarah Palin's credentials based on Bachmann's standard that a six-year mayor of a population 8,000 town in Alaska and a year and a half of governor of our nation's 47th largest state is proof positive of what this country really needs.

And it's not only Bachmann. GOP strategist Leslie Sanchez is amazing, too. When Larry King asked repeatedly if Palin was the best choice, Sanchez kept avoiding a yes or no answer. King, unusually aggressive, shouted out the possibilities: What about Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas? But Sanchez dodged the bullet every time, saying simply Palin was what was needed and would be great, conveniently never admitting -- not once -- whether she was absolutely the best. How could she?

But the Stepford analogy is not sexist and is not only about GOP women. Tucker Bounds, the McCain spokesman, who is, by the way, a man was asked repeatedly by CNN's Campbell Brown to name one example of Palin's experience to make her commander-in-chief. When he repeated that she was commander of the state national guard, Campbell asked time and again for one example of what she'd actually done in that capacity. Just one example, she kept interjecting as he failed miserably to do so, repeating ad nausea the fact that Palin had been a commander and had so much experience. It was alternately infuriating and exhilarating to watch, as CNN commentators don't always pursue the obvious and sometimes fawn over their guests, but to her credit Campbell Brown didn't let it go until the answer was palpably obvious in that there was no answer at all.

Is this the best our nation can do? That's what James Carville mused amidst the pseudo calm smirking and continual rude interruptions of Michele Bachmann. When he asked why Maine Senator Olympia Snowe wouldn't have made a better choice with her foreign policy experience and years in the Senate, Bachmann could only repeat the script with which the Stepford Republican had been programmed, trying to make it appear Carville was against women in power. When he reminded her that he'd been for Clinton and asked how she could possibly compare Palin with Hillary Clinton, Bachmann continued her quest for the Guinness record for longest grin and said some non sequitur about how the two women were nothing alike and she was glad of that fact, leaving out the obvious discrepancy in their respective resumes.

It's understandable how the Stepford Republicans are all circling the wagons to undo the damage wrought by the head of their ticket, but one can only hope that at some point -- perhaps at the convention -- perhaps a bit later on during the campaign trail -- a little boy will shout out at the top of his lungs at the end of one of Governor Palin's speeches, "Look, Mommy, look Daddy, the empress is wearing no clothes!"

 
 
 

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